The New International Encyclopædia/Münster

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The New International Encyclopædia
Münster
Edition of 1905. See also Münster on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

MÜNSTER, mụn'stẽr. The capital of the Prussian Province of Westphalia, situated in a level district at the confluence of the Aa with the Münster Canal, 65 miles northeast of Düsseldorf (Map: Prussia, B 2). The town is mediæval in appearance, with its ancient gabled buildings, old Renaissance houses, rococo dwellings of the eighteenth century, arcaded markets, and shaded allées. The site of the former fortifications, which divided the old and new towns, has been converted long since into promenades. Münster has many churches, of which two are prominent: Saint Lambert's and the cathedral. The former is a graceful, pleasing structure. It is Gothic, dates from the fourteenth century, has been restored in recent times, and possesses a majestic new tower. The church is associated with the history of the Anabaptists in the sixteenth century. The cathedral is of the thirteenth century, and has some noteworthy features, though none of great interest. The imposing Church of Our Lady also merits mention as well as the beautiful Romanesque tower of the Ludgerikirche.

The Rathaus is a handsome, gabled, Gothic structure. The Peace of Westphalia was signed in it in 1648, in a curious room called the Friedenssaal, which contains portraits claimed to have been painted by Terburg. Among the interesting old buildings are also the Renaissance Weigh House; the Renaissance Stadtkeller, the headquarters of the Kunstverein, with pictures of minor value; and the Schuhhaus, or the ancient guild-hall of shoemakers. The castle was the episcopal residence in former times, and is now occupied by the leading officials of the city. In its grounds is a botanical garden. The Government offices, the law courts, and the attractive Gothic post-office are modern. The splendid modern Ludgerus fountain is adorned with interesting religious statues. The Roman Catholic university, which ceased to exist as such in 1818, when the institution was reduced to a theological and a philosophical faculty (which figured as the Academy of Münster from 1843), was revived in 1902 by the establishment of a faculty of law. Noteworthy also among the many educational institutions are the royal pedagogical seminary, a seminary for priests, and two ‘Konvikte.’ Münster has a Museum of Christian Art, the Pauline Library, with about 115,000 volumes, and an extensive Roman Catholic gymnasium. There is a notable zoölogical garden, which is much frequented by the citizens, and contains an antiquarian collection. The industrial products of Münster include leather, linen and cotton fabrics, starch, thread, and sugar. There are also carriage works and distilleries. A large trade is carried on in the produce of the country. Carriages and sculptures of stone are exported. The population in 1871 was 24,815; in 1901, 63,776, mostly Catholics.

History. Münster had its origin in a celebrated monastery which appears as early as the time of Charles the Great. A considerable settlement sprang up around the monastery in the first part of the twelfth century. The town received municipal rights about 1180, and in the course of many years the inhabitants succeeded in vindicating their liberties against their feudal lords, the bishops of Münster. In the thirteenth century Münster entered the Hanseatic League. In the fifteenth century it became a centre of learning and religious life, and during the Reformation suffered greatly from the strife of parties. In 1533 Münster fell into the power of the Anabaptists, whose leader, the celebrated John of Leyden (q.v.), erected the city into a kingdom of Zion with himself as sovereign (1534). The city was taken by the Bishop in the following year, and John of Leyden was put to death. Against the ambitious and warlike Bernhard of Galen, Bishop of Münster, the city carried on a desperate struggle in defense of its rights, but it was finally compelled to submit with the loss of almost all its liberties (1661). The Bishopric of Münster, which held a prominent place among the ecclesiastical States of the old German Empire and embraced a territory of nearly 4000 square miles, was secularized in 1803.